experience writing train orders at the La Mesa club's Tehachapi layout, I thought I'd try running trains a bit more formally than just calling out "yeah, come on down the hill."
I'd already suggested keeping simple train orders on hand to give out to crews, but needed some forms to make them realistic. Some work with the word processor and a lot of block printing gave me some basic train orders to give out on Sunday. The orders are simple; the photo shows the clearance card and train order for the Campbell cannery job; nothing else will be on the railroad when it's out, so the train order and clearance card merely says "you've got the railroad from 6:15 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. except for the passenger trains." I also wrote up orders for three trains that will running in the second half of the session; we'll see whether my plan on where those trains will meet will stand up to reality.
I've done much of the work ahead of time, just to cut my stress. Most of the orders to give out will already have been written up, and can be handed to the crews with no work on my part.
You can do this too! Here are PDF files for blank train orders and clearance cards; right-click on the links to download them to your computer. Print them out on your favorite printer, cut them apart, and fill them in. The train order sheet prints two orders per 8.5 x 11 inch sheet; the clearance card sheet prints three cards per sheet.
If you're unfamiliar with train orders, go over to the Dome of Foam, my favorite railroad site that's filled with Bay Area and Southern Pacific information, and read through their very informative lessons one and two of train orders. Poke around on the site; there's also lots of stories of life during the time of train orders.